Vatiswa Ndara's cries didn't fall on deaf ears

We will always thank Ndara and others of her ilk for standing up for actors' rights no matter the repercussions, the writer says.
We will always thank Ndara and others of her ilk for standing up for actors' rights no matter the repercussions, the writer says.
Image: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu

Acting has always been regarded by many in the industry as a thankless job.

We have read and heard about many heart-rending stories about how actors died as paupers despite the fame and glamour they were associated with during their acting days. But we came to know about their plight - highlighted by industry colleagues.

However, many actors are afraid to speak out about the exploitation in the industry for fear of victimisation.

They don't want to rub production houses up the wrong way for being outspoken as they could be sidelined for future jobs. This would leave them stranded, considering most of the actors solely depend on acting to make a living.

But today, actors in South Africa should have nothing to fear. They should breathe a huge sigh of relief after government's intervention to their long-standing sufferings.

Government this week gazetted a notice expressing an intention to have people in the film and television industry enjoy the rights enshrined in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Labour Relations Act.

This means actors' working rights will, for the first time in the history of the industry, result in them being able to take paid annual leave, sick leave and maternity leave, among other things.

They will enjoy labour rights that are being enjoyed by the rest of workers in SA like teachers, doctors, nurses and police.

Announcing the intended benefits, the minister of labour, Thulas Nxesi, said the actors would also start receiving minimum wage.

We should applaud brave actors like Vatiswa Ndara, who risked her illustrious acting career to come out in the open about the exploitation in this industry.

Two months ago, Ndara wrote a heart-breaking, open letter to sport, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa, highlighting the exploitation the actors are subjected to.

While other actors were reluctant to come out to back Ndara openly, others spoke in her support because they were just tired of the exploitation and also tired of being afraid to talk about it.

We will always thank Ndara and others of her ilk for standing up for actors' rights no matter the repercussions.

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